HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya has announced that President Edgar Lungu has directed that with effect from today, Nakonde border will be temporarily closed.

And Dr Chilufya says Zambia has recorded 15 new COVID-19 cases of which 14 are in Lusaka and one in Chilanga.

Meanwhile, Dr Chilufya says commercial sex workers in Nakonde who were found positive for COVID-19 have been very cooperative in contact tracing and have given all the necessary leads.

At his daily briefing, Sunday, Dr Chilufya said the cumulative COVID-19 cases in Zambia now stood at 267.

He added that five patients had recovered as at yesterday, bringing the total recoveries to 117.

“As we talk about Lusaka, we tested a total of 250 samples in the last 24 hours and out of these, 15 cases were COVID positive. Out of these 15 positive cases, 14 are in Lusaka district and one in Chilanga. The positive cases include; one alert from the community, two contacts to known cases, three persons with a history of international travel currently under quarantine and five routine testing. This brings the total number of COVID cases in Zambia to 267 with seven deaths. Five patients have been discharged, therefore bringing the total number of recoveries to 117. All the patients are in stable condition,” Dr Chilufya said.

He announced that Nakonde border would be temporarily closed to facilitate the implementation of targeted interventions in the area.

“The situation in Nakonde remains grave and the President is concerned. In this regard, he has directed as follows; that with effect from Monday, May 11, 2020, the Nakonde boarder will be temporarily closed. There shall be no traffic in and out through the Nakonde boarder. Further, there shall be no traffic in or out of Nakonde to facilitate the implementation of targeted interventions that include; training and re-training of our port staff including immigration, ZRA, health staff so that we could actually ensure that they are ready to deal with any immigration, migration and movement of goods and services without endangering their lives,” Dr Chilufya said.

“This will also be accompanied with other measures such as re-deployment or deployment of more staff into the area and re-enforcement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other medical supplies in the area, re-arrangement of quarantine facilities and ensuring that business returns to normal as soon as possible when all those measures are put in place without putting the people of Nakonde or the staff at risk.”

Dr Chilufya said various COVID-19 samples had been collected from stakeholders in Nakonde, but said results of the screening and testing in the area would be given tomorrow.

“We have mobilised adequate PPEs, medical consumables and multi sectoral teams. The multi sectorial teams continue to comb the area in Nakonde and as we speak today, various samples have been collected from various stakeholders in the community. We are continuing to process those samples and to validate the results. We will give a comprehensive figure, summary of the screening and testing in Nakonde in our update tomorrow,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Chilufya said commercial sex workers in Nakonde who were COVID-19 patients had been very cooperative in contact tracing.

“Commercial sex workers have been very cooperative in our investigations and they have given us all the leads that we need. And they have been very useful in contact tracing. We had a case where one of them appeared with symptoms and told us about the client who was a truck driver from a foreign jurisdiction, even giving us the number. We called that truck driver and the one who answered told us from that jurisdiction that ‘the one you are calling actually is sick in the hospital, he has COVID’,” he said.

Dr Chilufya said government had no business hiding figures of the COVID-19 cases as hiding figures did not add value to the control of the pandemic.

“We have no business hiding data. This is the reason why the President has insisted that on a daily basis, update the nation and feed them with the data. And the data that we feed the nation is the basis upon which President Edgar Lungu provides leadership in adjusting the scalable and adaptable response plan,” said Dr Chilufya.

Also speaking at the briefing, Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo said government would deploy additional law enforcers in Nakonde to ensure that the measures that would be imposed were adhered to.

He discouraged those who wanted to travel to Nakonde, as the area was an epicentre of the virus.

“We are going to deploy additional numbers of law enforcements to ensure that the measures that we will impose as the medical personnel go in to continue with the massive testing are adhered to. That will include restricted movement of the people. Those of you who know how Nakonde operates, our people from both sides of the boarder interact on the daily basis commercially and socially,” said Kampyongo.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Zambia retirees have donated 600 face-masks and hand sanitizers to the Ministry of Health.